Plantar Fasciitis is an extremely painful condition caused by inflammation and swelling of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that begins at the back of your heel, runs across the underside of your foot. It often is caused by overuse, poor natural mechanics, excessive body weight, sports or improper footwear. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. Some activities that can predispose a person are certain sports that involve running, ballet dancing, aerobics, improper stretching and even poor walking mechanics. Taut Achilles tendons, calf, hamstring, or weak foot muscles increase your risk factors. High arches or flat feet are natural biomechanics of your body that can contribute greatly to your chances of struggling with Plantar Fasciitis.
People with plantar faciitis often complain of pain along the arch of the foot and at the heel. The pain can be excruciating when first applying pressure to the foot in the morning or after sitting or standing for long periods of time. The fascia supports the arch of the foot and becomes irritated and inflamed when pressure causes micro tearing of the tissues. The body’s response to this injury is to create scar tissue. The scar tissue is inelastic and can further perpetuate the problem by putting further mechanical strain on other areas of the foot creating a cycle of healing and injury. Plantar fasciitis can become a chronic injury, often termed plantar fasciosis at this point because there is minimal inflammation. Plantar fasciosis is often characterized by extensive scar tissue that restricts movement due to loss of blood flow to the area. It is very difficult to treat and can be nearly impossible to completely heal.
Preventative approaches can help you avoid this painful condition. Try stretching and flexing your feet as well as pivoting them in circles at the ankles in both directions to warm the tendons and muscles prior to arising in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time. Maintain moderate levels of exercise in well-built, arched shoes. Avoid allowing the arch of your foot being stretched flat. Practice balancing on one foot at a time without shoes. Ensure that your feet are adequately warmed up before performing any substantial exercise. Since Plantar Fasciitis is generally a chronic problem, avoidance of triggers are as important as part of the treatment.
Common treatments used to alleviate pain and aid in the healing of plantar fasciitis are rest, ice, splints, orthotics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston Technique
The primary cause of the pain in plantar fasciitis and plantar fasciosis is scar tissue adhesions, caused by repeated damage of the fascia. Traditional treatments alone or together may only minimally reduce the pain and do little to prevent recurrence.
ART and Graston Technique are relatively new approaches with very successful results. Being hands-on methods, the therapist can work directly with the soft tissues of the body. These treatments focus on locating and treating the scar tissues adhesions accumulated in the muscles and soft tissues.
The primary Goals of a practitioner using the ART and Graston techniques are to:
- Aid in the disruption/breakdown of the adhesions
- Increase normal tissue flexibility, movement and comfort
- Aim to restore full flexibility, balance and stability
Treatment of with ART and Graston techniques is applied to the plantar fascia, calf muscles, and other muscles of the foot. The treatment is complemented with specific foot strengthening and stability exercises. Most patients report a positive response within 2-4 treatments.